Friday, September 4, 2009

How to ruin a family

In his book, What’s so Amazing About Grace, Phillip Yancy tells about the history of the effects of a single sin on four generations. Daisy was born in 1898, the eighth of ten children. Her father was a mean, abusive drunk who kicked his wife out of the house. All ten children cried, begging their father not to put their mother out, but he wouldn’t budge. He sent her away, saying he never wanted to see her again. In time, most of the children were farmed out to relatives or went to live with their mother, but Daisy stayed with her Dad until she was old enough to leave home.

Finally, her dad “guttered out” and stumbled into a rescue mission where he had to “earn” his dinner by listening to a sermon. When the preacher gave the invitation, he went forward to accept Christ because it seemed the “polite thing to do.” But to his surprise, the sinner’s prayer took. His life began to change. He sobered up and began seeking out his children, begging them for forgiveness for the way he’d treated them. At first, they were suspicious of the old man, thinking he was just trying to get into their good graces so he could hit them up for drinking money, but to their surprise, he was sincere and they all forgave him. Everyone, that is, except Daisy. Like he’d said to her mother, “she never wanted to see him again as long as she lived.” Even though he lived just eight houses from her for 5 years, she never visited him and never forgave him.

Daisy swore she would never be like her father, and she never was a drunk, but she had the same unforgiving, abusive spirit. She was harsh with her six children and was verbally abusive with them—especially with Margaret. Margaret swore she would be different than her mother, and she was never abusive, but she was unbending and harsh with her four children, but was especially harsh with her son Michael, kicking him out of the house saying, “I never want to see you again…”

She got her wish. For twenty-six years, they never spoke. Michael doesn’t have any children, but he has gone from one relationship to another and Yancy says that he has said that he “never wants to see his wife again.”

Four generations. One sin. The son learned it from the mother who learned it from her mother who learned it from her father. Over a hundred years have passed and the sin flourishes and wrecks havoc in the lives of the old drunk’s descendants.